Indoor Gardening: Filing Cabinet Makeover

You can’t have too many indoor plants during the winter time! They remind us of the new life and growth about to burst forth in the spring and give us something to look forward to! I was inspired to do an indoor garden after seeing some shots on Pinterest of plants spilling out of card catalogue drawers. I have a card catalogue and would have loved to do that, but it’s much too useful right now as an organizer in my craft studio!

To compensate, I thought of another similar idea using another piece that we already had! When my brother-in-law moved from his old house, there was on old retro filing cabinet in the basement left by previous owners that he wanted to get rid of. Hubs decided to bring it home and find a new use for it.

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At the time, the mancave wasn’t built yet so it languished in the garage for months before hubs could turn his attention to it. More about the mancave reno in an upcoming post!

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Hubs got his colour cue from the Ikea Forsa lamp I gave him to christen his new space. I think it’s a gorgeous retro grey-green!

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Hubs colour matched the paint and gave the filing cabinet a few coats after he sanded it down and primed it. He also cleaned up all the hardware and reinstalled it. Then he added some felt on the bottom of the cabinet to protect the floor from the sharp edges of the metal.

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Here it is all set up with some plants! If it wasn’t winter right now, I’d buy plants specifically for this piece, but I think you’ll get the idea of what you can do with a piece like this! You can layer different plants in each of the drawers and use more than the two drawers I used here.

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For more ideas of how to bring the outdoors in, have a look at my most recent innovations. You’ll find videos and full tutorials on how to do them both:

Indoor floating water feature:
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Blue jean plant stand:

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Paint Stick Pallet

Valentines Day is coming up and I wanted to make a little something for my sweety. Since we’ve done so much DIY renos together, I was inspired by a pallet. In keeping with our mission to lead a more sustainable life, and keep things from landfill, I repurposed paint sticks and 1″x2″ lumber to make a miniature version of the pallet that hubs could easily display in his office.

I started by designing an 8 1/2″ x  11″ picture using the charicature we had done for our wedding. I superimposed it into a ‘puzzle piece heart’ I drew with the words ‘you complete me’ – the perfect sentiment for any soul mate!

I determined how many paint sticks I would need. Ten was the perfect number for an 8 1/2″ x 11″ piece of paper. I printed it out on my colour printer using regular paper.

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I could have gone for a more straight-laced picture from our wedding like the one below, but given the choice between serious and humour, I’ll choose humour every time!

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I took packing tape and applied three strips across the back of the paint sticks to keep them all together and flipped it over.

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Then I mixed up a ratio of 50:50 glue to water. I had some leftover glue from the hardwood we recently installed in my craft studio, so I just used that (glue only has a shelf life of about one year).

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I used a foam brush to lay down a thin layer of the glue mixture on the paint sticks. The trick to keeping paper from bubbling when you decoupage is to keep the application of glue thin and let it dry a bit until tacky. Then you can lay down the paper and smooth it out.

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To disguise the white boarder of the paper, I outlined around the edges with a marker in a coordinating colour after the glue was dry.

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I applied a coat of water based varnish, let it dry overnight and then applied a second coat to seal and protect it.

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Once the varnish was dry, I cut around the edges of the picture on my bandsaw. I removed the packing tape on the back of the paint sticks, then I cut each individual piece apart.

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I assembled my paint sticks and added in spacers in between (using another paint stick on it’s side) so I could measure for the length of the 1″x2’s”.

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I cut three pieces of 1″ x 2″ and turned them on their sides. I glued the paint sticks on top leaving a gap in between until they were all glued onto the lumber.

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I added some scrap paint sticks on top and weighed the whole thing down with my vintage irons as the glue dried.

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Once it had time to dry, I measured and cut 4 more paint sticks to apply underneath the ‘skid’  with finishing nails. I was going to add the finishing nails onto the face of the skid too, but I couldn’t bear to detract from the picture. As an option, if you want the look of nails on the surface of the boards, you could take a silver sharpie and add two little dots to each one to mimick the nail heads.

On the back, I added some picture hanging wire between two screw eyes to hang it up. I can’t wait for Valentines day to arrive so I can give it to hubs; I hope he likes it!

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With the paint stick pallet complete, I guess I’ve got a real ‘paint’ theme going on at Birdz of a Feather craft! Most recently, I just completed this paint bucket water feature:

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And remember this paint chip portrait I did of hubs?

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For another fun craft idea that isn’t paint-related, check out my blue jean planter 🙂

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Don’t forget to pin and share if you enjoyed this post.

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Paint Bucket Water Feature

My husband always wanted to create one of those floating water features where the tap is magically suspended above a watering can. He bought some of the supplies, but that’s as far as he got. A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled on his stash and decided to order a pump so I could make it for him.

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Unbeknownst to him though, I wasn’t going to make just any water feature! Painting is a big part of his job so I decided to substitute the watering can he had planned to use for a paint bucket instead and take it from there.

To start, I gathered all my materials:

  • Rigid plastic tubing
  • Recycled 1 gallon plastic paint bucket with lid
  • Brass water spout
  • Pump (we use a small one; 30 GPH)
  • Clear dollar store gems
  • Chalk pencil
  • Paint brush
  • 2″ desk grommet
  • High gloss acrylic paint (be sure to get high gloss because if you want it to still look like it’s wet even once it dries!)
  • Diamond tip engraver
  • Fine hack saw or jig saw
  • 1/8″ drill bit
  • Black marker

About the Tubing

The tubing has to be rigid so it will hold the weight of the brass spout. We bought a few different sizes to test out. The first one we tried was 1/2″ interior with a 3/4″ outside diameter. It worked just fine but we thought the smaller tube we ended up using looked more realistic in terms of water flow. We used 1/4″ interior with a 3/8″ outside diameter. Keep in mind that the interior dimension of your tubing has to fit over the outlet of your pump, so take that into consideration. As an option, if you can’t find tubing with an interior diameter that fits over the pump outlet, you can always look for fittings for the pump itself to adapt it to fit the tubing.

We cut a piece of the tubing about 14 1/4″ long. The length you cut will depend on the height of your container (along with the pump once it’s attached) so cut the length of the tube to the proportion that looks good with your particular container.

We put some masking tape around the top so we could evenly mark our holes with a marker. Using a 1/8″ drill bit, hubs drilled 2 rows of holes around the edge of the plastic tube. He drilled 4 on each row for 8 holes in total – about 3/8″ down from the edge. He staggered the positioning of the holes on the second row.

Below you can see we have one row drilled and have the second row marked with the holes offset. We initially started with a larger tube, but as I mentioned, ended up using a small diameter (3/8″ instead of 3/4″).

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Once the holes were drilled, we tested the tube on the pump to gauge the flow of the water and see how it would work. I told hubs that I was only using the paint bucket for the trial run, so we brought the tube, pump, faucet and paint bucket to our laundry room sink to give it a go. The pictures from this point forward show the 3/8″ tubing we settled on.

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After some adjustment with the flow, we ended up putting the pump flow on a medium setting. We found that worked best for us, but you will need to do your own experimenting to see what works for you. So far so good!

Once we were happy with the mechanics of the water works, I turned my attention to the paint bucket and hubs went on his merry way – oblivious to the fact of what I was really making for him!

I took apart the grommet and used the larger side to trace a circle with the chalk pencil on the back of the can about an inch or so down from the top. Don’t put it too low because it needs to be above the final waterline which will cover the pump mechanism and you don’t want the water leaking out! I used a diamond tip engraver to trace around the circle so I’d have an outline to follow with my cutting tool.

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I used a fine hacksaw to cut the circle out (you could also use a jigsaw with a fine blade) and  installed the larger side of the grommet into the hole to test it out. You could use some clear caulk around the edges before you permanently install the grommet to seal it. Snap the second piece of the grommet on; it provides a good strain relief for the cord and the black blends in with the bucket!

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Moving onto the decorative steps, I first cut a piece of the sheet protector and placed it under the paint can to catch the intentional spills. It’s probably a good idea to glue it onto the bottom at this point because it’s going to be there permanently, as you’ll see later.

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I used a glossy paint for this project because when it dries, it will still look like it’s wet and I love that look for this project. I took the paintbrush and dipped it into the paint, then painted the interior of the paint can lid. Set both the lid and the paint brush aside to dry.

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I wanted ‘controlled’ drips around the rim and edges of the paint can so I used an eyedropper that I saved from some vitamin drops to place several paint runs around the top. You could probably just do this step with the paint brush too.

At the bottom of the can, on top of the sheet protector, I added more paint to mimic the flow of the paint spill. Once I was satisfied with the amount of paint, I set the can aside to dry.

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I used some water proof mastic to seal the end of the tube to the faucet and also at the connection to the pump.

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I cut a small piece of the mastic and kneaded it according to the directions.

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I added a blob to the top of the tube, making sure that I didn’t obstruct the holes that hubs had drilled (I ended up taking some away). As you insert the tube into the faucet, take care that it doesn’t squish into the holes. Hold the two pieces together to let it set up a few minutes before you let go of it.

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You should also connected the bottom of the tube to the pump in the same way by rolling out another piece of mastic and winding it around the connection to seal it together. I did this final step much later in the process so I could twist and position the faucet in the can once the pump was inside. Let the mastic dry for at least half an hour or the time suggested in the directions.

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In the meantime, I slid the can onto a board and cut around the paint spill on the plastic sheet so I could removed the excess.

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I carefully transferred the can onto a lazy suzan for my final display.

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The bottom of the pump I purchased has suction cups on the bottom so I inserted it into the can and pressed it down against the bottom. Now you can pull the cord of the pump through the back and pop on the other half of the grommet as you saw earlier. There’s no need to seal this part; in case you ever need to remove the pump you’ll be able to get the cord out again.

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The top of the tube will be top-heavy due to the weight of the faucet, so I added clear dollar store gems around the pump to steady it and keep it from tipping. I only purchased two bags, but could easily have doubled it! Make sure that the pump is being held securely by whatever you choose to weigh it down; you don’t want it to tip and spew water everywhere when you’re not in the room!

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Pour enough water into the bucket to make sure the pump is fully submerged, but not so high that it will leak out of the hole you cut for the cord!

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When it was time to pull the whole look together, I set it up in my office so I could try it out. I fed the cord down through the counter top and left it dangling until I was ready to plug it in.

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I positioned the paint lid beside the paint bucket, then leaned the paint brush on top of the lid.

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When I plugged it in, I was amazed at how realistic it looked. It looked like real flowing water from a magically floating tap and the paint was so shiny I thought it was still wet (but it wasn’t!).

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I couldn’t wait to surprise hub so I moved the whole shebang upstairs!

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Hubs grinned from ear to ear when he walked into the room and saw it; I love getting surprises, but I love giving them even more! I hope he has room for this at his office; I think his co-workers would get a kick out of it – and I’ll undoubtedly need the space for my next craft project 🙂

UPDATE: Hubs loved it so much he refused to move it to the office; I’ll just have to make him another one!

Maintenance

As you run the pump, some of the water will eventually evaporate. Make sure the pump is fully covered with water; you don’t want to burn out the motor. It’s also a good idea to use distilled water instead of tap water; it will be a lot easier on the pump motor.

If you enjoyed this project, please pin and share.

Other Water Features We’ve Done

Here are two pond projects we did outside:

Back yard pond:

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Front yard pond:

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If you’re interested in home and renovation projects (both indoors and out), be sure to check out our sister site, Birdz of a Feather Home.

Follow us right here on Birdz of a Feather Craft (link in footer or on homepage) or Bloglovin (link below) and you’ll get an e-mail next time I post a new  project. I’ve got some more fun things planned for 2017, like this paint stick pallet wall hanger I made hubs for Valentines Day. Get the full tutorial here, but shhh – don’t tell him!

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Blue Jean Planter

Now that the holidays are over, our bay window area is looking a little sparse. I’m starting to crave spring and while we’re still a long way off, a little more greenery indoors can’t hurt in the meantime!

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Today I’m demonstrating an adorable planter that literally stands and is easy to make by following my step-by-step tutorial. All it takes is a pair of blue jeans, scrap wood and few other things from your local  thrift store. You can even upcycle things you already own if you have them on hand!

This project was inspired by my husband who made the first one out of his jeans and boots after he left the construction industry (which you’ll see at the end of this post). I thought the planter was so much fun that I’ve been making them occasionally as gifts ever since. Although the one I’m demonstrating for this tutorial is just a small tyke, you can make this planter in any size you desire!

I got my supplies (jeans, sneakers and oval container) at my local Value Village; it’s a great resource if you want to start with a small planter but don’t have young kids that have outgrown their stuff.

This YouTube video gives you a quick overview.

To start, you’ll need (in no particular order):

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Jeans, sneakers and metal container from Value Village

  • blue jeans
  • a pair of shoes (high top sneakers or short boots are best)
  • oval container (it can be plastic or metal; the shape is more important)
  • 2×3’s or 2×4’s used for wood studs
  • scrap piece of 1/4″ – 5/8″ plywood
  • Wood countersink head screws (at least 1 1/2″ long for this project and longer if you use taller jeans)
  • two plastic veggie bags (recycled from the grocery store)
  • panty hose (a great opportunity to upcycle the ones with runs in them)
  • pool noodle (you can substitute soft foam or batting)
  • quick set cement (I used the kind for setting posts that sets in 10 minutes)
  • paint stick (for mixing)
  • tape (painters and/or packing tape)
  • belt (optional)
  • recycled plastic container (to mix the cement)
  • cotton batting

Measure the jeans from the hem to just above the crotch area and add some additional height for the shoes (my measurement was 14 1/2″). Cut two 2×3’s to the length you measured.

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Drill through the centre of one end using a drill bit that’s big enough to accommodate the width of the wood screw.

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Draw an oval shape on the piece of board and cut it out with a jigsaw or band saw. Since this project is small and the planter won’t be too heavy, I’ve used 1/4″ plywood but you’ll want a heavier piece for bigger projects that are going to be loaded up with plants.

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Place the wood studs into each shoe and set the oval on top to determine the spacing of the legs. Drill two holes into the oval platform (mine were 3 3/4″ apart).

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Attach the oval platform to the wood studs. Countersink the screws slightly into the platform so they won’t stick out and interfere with the planter once it’s sitting on top.

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Next, cut a pool noodle in half. I used it because I had it, but soft foam or batting will also work for this next step too.

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Tape one half  of the noodle to the flat end of each stud (this will be the front).

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As I mentioned, you can substitute soft foam or even cut some pieces of batting from an old duvet to wrap the legs. If you’re using softer material, I usually staple it on and also cover it in a nylon stocking to keep it all in place. In this instance I could have added some more packing tape; I didn’t really need the stocking but I wanted to demonstrate it as an option to keep things from shifting.

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Now you’re ready to put it all together, but before you do, unlace the top of the shoes to expose the interior and insert two plastic bags; the kind used to hold your veggies at the grocery store. Sometimes I don’t add the plastic if the shoe or boot is made of heavy duty leather, but since I’m working with a relatively porous fabric the plastic will prevent the water in the cement mix from soaking through.

The cement stabilizes and weighs down the planter to keep it from tipping over. Pour some water into a recycled plastic container, add the cement and mix thoroughly with an old paint stick.

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To prop up the legs in the shoes before I poured, I temporarily added in a scrap piece of wood and a small screwdriver at the heel; just be sure to remove your items before you pour the cement! Pour cement into each shoe.

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Tamp the mixture down with the paint stick to make sure it’s evenly distributed all around the posts.

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Once the shoes are full and before the cement is dry, lift up the tongues, lace the shoes up and tie them up so the cement can finish setting.  You can also cut back the plastic bags that extends above the top of the shoes.

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Once the cement is fully set, remove the oval piece of wood temporarily.

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Add the pants onto the legs, then reattach the wooden oval platform.

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As I was screwing the right leg back on, I decided to swing the foot out a little to strike a more casual pose. Pull the pants up and insert the planter so it sits on top of the wood platform. If this pair of jeans didn’t already have a snug waste band, I would typically add a belt at this point to tighten the jeans around the planter so it doesn’t shift. You could glue the planter to the platform if you wanted it to be permanent, but I like the option of being able to remove it if I want to switch out the plant materials in it.

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The back end will look a little saggy so I filled it out by stuffing some cotton batting into the area between the planter and the seat of the pants.

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Here it is from the front before I added the plants:

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It’s all done after you add the plant material! All the garden stores in our immediate area are closed so I picked up an arrangement at our local flower shop for the reveal. The container was bigger than I would have liked, but it does the trick!

Here she is all decked out with her greenery!

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I think the small ones are SO adorable but my favourite has got to be the pair of bride and groom planters I made for our wedding to adorn either side of the aisle at our venue!

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We picked up all the supplies to make these wedding planters at Value Village too!

Here’s another an example of a full sized planter we’ve done in the past as a birthday gift for our niece:

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And here’s a shot showing a few different sizes of plant stands gathered together. You can see the original one that my husband made (the one that started it all!) on the right. We’re growing some basil in the middle one!

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With the larger planters, it’s fun to add accessories like this bottle opener/key chain and belt:

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The only thing that would improve on this project would be if it could walk itself to the sink to get a drink of water, but that may be a little beyond our skillset 🙂

If you liked this post, please pin and share! This is my first official full craft post in my new craft studio (which I kicked off last year half way through this dog bone gift basket) and there’s plenty more ahead in 2017!

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My next craft post will be a fun indoor water feature with step-by-step instructions that you won’t want to miss! Follow us right here on Birdz of a Feather (link in footer or on homepage) or Bloglovin (link below) and you’ll get an e-mail next time I post a new craft project.

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Organize a Craft Room

Today marks the launch of my new craft site Birdz of a Feather Craft! I’ll still post our home reno projects at Birdz of a Feather Home so if  you’re interested in renos, be sure to follow me there too!

Since finishing off my craft studio at the end of last year, I’m spending more time on craft projects. To kick off my new focus for 2017, (and celebrate my new craft studio) I thought I would dedicate this first post to craft room organization.

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Hubs built an entire wall of storage cabinets for me using Ikea Pax units. Although they’re meant to be used in the bedroom as a wardrobe, the interior options are ideal for a craft studio. I’ve used the interior organizers to full advantage. Here, we’ve installed a pull-out shelf to store one of my sewing machines:

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I put a few felt dividers into one of the drawers to corral small items such as my pressing hams:

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There’s a ton of room to store both my hanging and tissue patterns, my glass grinder, my tools and even my thread (although I changed my mind about the tread as you’ll see further on).

The clear glass drawer fronts allow me to see everything I have in an instant!

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There’s a flat storage space for my self-healing cutting mats and all of my tools are stored on pull out shelves so they are readily accessible. It’s impossible to loose anything when you can simply pull out a drawer to see what you have! The only trick to keeping it organized is making sure to return everything back to where I got it; so far it’s worked like a charm.

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I even have a few pullouts to store some closed storage bins:

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Instead of hiding my cone threads and yarns in the cabinet, I decided to relocate them to display them in all their glorious colour. The vintage glass oak display cabinet keeps the dust off everything.

The 6-drawer card catalogue resting on top of the cabinet adds additional closed storage. I organized things like tape and fasteners in the drawers.

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To organize my collection of vintage irons and other cast iron objects, I’ve displayed them on an Ikea Lack shelf. I love being reminded of how far technology has come in the last century.

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I couldn’t believe it when we found the shabby chic highboy shown below on the side of the road. It was missing its drawers, but it turned out to be perfect to tuck away larger project components so I can clear my work table when I have things in progress and need to move on to another step. It’s so easy to store and grab things from the open shelf space.

My grandmother bought me the industrial pattern table to christen my first studio. Hubs added a shelf onto the bottom of it so I could store some closed bins that are holding my fabrics. My grandmother (and Mom) taught me most of what I know about crafting and I always think of her when I’m looking for some inspiration for my next project!

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My favourite piece (if I had to pick just one) is the kitchen drawer units we repurposed from our kitchen renovation. We faced the front of each drawer with MDF to get a clean slate. I blew up a picture of a VW beetle that hubs restored and attached it to the MDF for a unique storage piece.

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There are six large and deep storage drawers as well as a vertical pullout (similar to the pull-out cabinet we built for our new kitchen). I store most of my finished projects in the drawers that are still waiting for their final place in our home (or someone else’s home!).

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In one half of the pull-out cabinet I’m storing mostly liquid items such as paint, caulk and glue. The shelves are adjustable so that my storage options are totally flexible and I can switch things around whenever I want to:

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On the other side of the divide, we installed a perforated metal backer. I can hang some items on the metal,  either peg-board style or by magnets. I haven’t organized this spot yet, but will likely store my rulers here.

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My work area will one day hold a laptop or desktop computer so I can design and execute in the same space.

Above the floating desk, we installed additional wall cabinets to maximize storage space.

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I’ve got inspirational magazines stored in one of the cabinets, as shown below, and a collection of craft books in the other units:

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Lastly, I’ve organized all my smaller items in a vintage card catalogue. Everything is labeled alphabetically so I can easily find it:

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Now that everything is coming together organization-wise, I can fully concentrate on the fun aspects of my new craft studio: creating and making things!

Here is a sneak peak of my very first craft project in 2017. I’ll be showing you how to make your very own blue jean planter. Isn’t it adorable? I’ll have a full tutorial, and hopefully a video for you, very soon!

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Don’t forget to follow me here on Birdz of a Feather Craft to get an e-mail to notify you each time I post or on Bloglovin’ if you want the full tutorial once it’s hot off the press!

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Dog Toy Organizer / Gift Basket

Dog toys have a way of getting scattered throughout the house just like kids toys do. Make this dog bone basket for yourself to organize your dog toys in when you’re in the mood to tidy up or make it for any dog lover on your gift list; it also makes a great gift basket!

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Just about all the materials we used to make our dog bone basket are either repurposed from items we had on hand (like the scrap of MDF we used for the base and door pulls we made into basket handles) or came from the dollar store. It’s not only unique, but it’s budget friendly too!

I started by drawing out the bone shape on paper. By folding the paper in half and only drawing out half the bone, you’ll get a more even shape once it’s cut out. I taped the paper pattern to a scrap piece of MDF and cut around it with a jigsaw. I rounded the top edges perimeter with sandpaper to smooth the sharp edges and then painted it white.

I marked the holes at 1/2″ increments about ½” in from the edge. Hubs drilled out the holes with a drill press so I could insert wooden dowels into the holes. Using a drill press is a real time saver and each hole can be drilled to the same depth for consistency. The dowels act as the ‘ribs’ of the basket to support the weaving.

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I dabbed one end of each dowel into a bit of glue before inserting them into the holes.

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Once all the dowels were glued, I let it dry 24 hours. Then it’s time to start weaving!

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I made this basket for our friend’s new dog, which is tan and black, so I thought I’d match up the colour of the basket by combining the dollar store twine with some black yarn I had leftover from a knitting project.

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Tie a knot and attach the combined twine and yarn to the middle dowel at one end of the bone.

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Begin weaving in and out around the entire shape.

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When I got back to where I started, I continued in the same direction. Note that if you have an odd number of dowels, you’ll be able to keep going around and around.

However, if you end up with an even amount of dowels, you’ll have to double back and turn around when you reach where you started. Have a look at the plant basket below that I made previously to see how to ‘double back’.  You can see that towards the top, I looped around both dowels just to stabilize and hold the corner together.

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Our friend named the new pup Dot, so I added a charm with the letter ‘D’ to the centre of the basket on the front. I opened up the link using two needle nose pliers and then squeezed it closed again around the twine and continued weaving.

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When you’re about an inch from the top of the dowels and you’re back to where you started, bring the end of the twine to the inside of the basket, but don’t cut it off. To finish off the top and create a nice edging, use a thicker piece of rope: fold it in half and loop it around the same dowel.

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Crisscross the rope around the dowels all the way around the perimeter of the bone until you’re back at the beginning again.

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To end the edging, bring both pieces of rope to the inside of the basket. You’ll use the end of the twine to wrap around the rope and finish it off.

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Wrap the twine around the rope ends in a figure eight until it’s the length of the inside wall of the basket.

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Knot the twine and add some hot glue to secure the end to the back of the rope where it won’t be seen. Cut the end of the twine and the rope, then use hot glue to secure the rope to the inside of the basket so it blends in seamlessly. You can glue down the edge of the rope as well as putting a dollop on the base of the basket to keep the ends from lifting.

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To finish off the top of the dowels, I blackened the ends with black marker then glued on some wooden beads.

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The holes in the dollar store beads tend to be very inconsistent so I used my thin needle nose pliers to ream out the holes, making sure they would fit onto each dowel before I glued them in place. If you want to be picky about it, you can use a tiny wire brush to clear any debris from the holes before gluing on the beads.

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I added a dab of hot glue to the underside of a bead and then threaded it onto the dowel, continuing around until all the dowels were capped.

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In the planter basket I showed you above, I incorporated rope handles into that one so it could be lifted. Since this basket is much larger and heavier, I decided to repurpose some door pulls instead. They were originally saved from our old cabinets and were yellow oak with gold metal.

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I painted them up to coordinate with the charm (I painted the oak black, then silver leafed and distressed the metal with more black). Hubs gave them a quick spray coat of varnish in the garage, which we let dry, before I mounted them onto the basket.

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Measure to get both handles evenly positioned on each side the basket, ensuring you don’t cover up the charm on the front! You can insert toothpicks where you want the screws placed. I used some washers on the inside of the basket before feeding the screws through the weave of the basket. Use the toothpicks or thin needle nosed pliers to guide the screws through the weave and position the handles on each side. You’ll need a short screwdriver to attach the screws to the handles as the width is pretty narrow in the centre.

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As a last step, shave off some of the longer sisal strands with scissors to neaten it up.

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The basket is now done and ready to fill with dog treats – and of course a flea and tick collar to protect the pup and keep her safe!

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We inserted a card and then wrapped it all up with some cellophane.

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For one more easy to do gift basket, and other crafty DIY gift ideas, check out the following posts by clicking on the pictures below:
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Collage_First 3 HQ Challenge Projects

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You may not have noticed, but halfway through this project, I went from working on my dining room table to my own craft studio – courtesy of all the hard work hubs put into finishing off our basement! I’m so excited to finally have a dedicated place in the house to repurpose and craft to my heart’s desire. My new studio boasts a focal point made of repurposed kitchen cabinets to hide away my stash! Check out the reveal of my new studio!

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Muskoka Chair Challenge at the Ontario Science Centre

Who doesn’t love to relax in a Muskoka chair (or Adirondack chair as our neighbours to the south call it)!  Several years ago, the Ontario Science Centre (OSC) sponsored a challenge asking for willing participants to create a unique Muskoka chair that would appeal to their visitors during the summer months.

OSC aims to inspire a lifelong journey of curiosity, discovery and action to create a better future for the planet. But all that is rounded out by a downright fun experience when you visit! Hubs and I have racked up so many great and memorable experiences each time we go, that we jumped at the chance to team up and give the chair challenge a go.  We had a blast lending our creative talent to designing one of the chairs that would ultimately be displayed around the grounds at OSC!

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A science connection was naturally something to consider, however it also needed to be comfortable to sit in, withstand the elements that an outdoor chair would be exposed to and withstand the attention and affection (aka wear and tear) that their visitors would bestow upon it!

Each team was given a dissembled chair in a box, and the rest was up to us. We started by sanding all the pieces of wood that made up the chair.

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Rather than do the obvious thing and incorporate a science theme, I decided to take a different approach to the challenge; one that no one else would think of.  I found out a long time ago through a friend, and many visitors are probably unaware of this, but did you know that all the exhibits at OSC are conceived, designed, built and finished right on-site by OSC staff?  Yes indeed, it takes the collaboration of many people to create the interesting, informative and interactive exhibits that are on display — and they do it in a way that is as green as possible!

Armed with this knowledge, I wanted our Muskoka chair to pay tribute to some of the people who are ‘behind the scenes’ in Exhibit Fabrication: namely the designers, wood workers and finishers.

Since every good concept must start with a plan, I knew that part of developing great experiences for their visitors would start with a ‘blueprint’ and hoped there would be extras hanging around and gathering dust. Why not découpage some of these to our chair?  By recycling them, we could pay homage to all the exhibit fabricators while being environmentally friendly.  I guess you could say that we turned blueprints ‘green’!

I was able to secure extra blueprint copies of the Living Earth exhibit –  a fitting theme as every element we used was recycled and/or earth friendly.

I lined up all the slats, and positioned  the blue prints over them so they would all read perfectly once assembled.  When I was happy with the layout, I ran the side of a pencil around each outline to ‘score it’ so I could faintly see where to cut each piece. I didn’t use the pencil lead because I didn’t want to erase any remaining marks after they were cut, but  I did use it to lightly number the back of the paper and corresponding wood so the order wouldn’t get mixed up. Then I glued the blueprints to the wood using a 1:2 mixture of water and glue to thin it out. When all the slats were finished I moved onto the arms (seen below):

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Because of the size of the chair, I had to overlap several blueprints.  By laying it all out first to visualize it, I was able to come up with an interesting idea for the back of the chair! I found that one of the blueprints in the set had a circular pattern rendered on it. It turned on a lightbulb: why don’t we incorporate the Science Centre logo into the design in recognition of the graphics department?

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I love that OSC’s logo connects in such a way that it forms a trillium: the provincial flower of Ontario since 1937!

When it came to fabricating the logo, I didn’t want to completely mask the beauty of the blueprints (I also wanted to create a peek-a-boo effect with the trillium) so I came up with the idea of cutting out the circles from recycled coloured tissue paper.  When découpaged over the blueprint you could still make out the details through the tissue and once sprayed with a clear finish it was even better; it worked like a charm!

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Tissue paper OSC logo superimposed onto bluepint

Next, we upcycled an old wooden shipping pallet and brought it to life as a footstool and cup holder to accompany our chair (an ode to OSC wood workers). Each piece was sanded smooth, as we did with the chair, to better accept the découpage treatment.

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Salvaged shipping pallet turned into slats and sides for footstool

I wanted each slat of our footstool to be representative of some of OSC’s exhibit halls – to tie in the displays that at one time all started out as blueprints! I used one blueprint and overprinted it with seven of the exhibit hall names.  Since the width of the footstool was wider than I was able to print, I added in the red, blue and green tissue paper once again to make up the width.

The project took up space on our dining room table and hubs’ workship for several weeks, but it was well worth it because we had so much fun while we worked on it together!

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Footstool slats made from an upcycled shipping pallet

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Creating the pattern for the cup holder

Hubs glued and clamped together two pieces of the pallet to gain enough width for the top of the cup holder, then cut out the shape with a jigsaw.

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The finished cup holder came together nicely; who would’ve guessed it was made from a pallet?

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We wanted a pop of colour to tie the cup holder into the OSC logo. Hubs tested a few stains and ended up choosing a red dye for the accent colour.

Our chair, footstool and cup holder were protected from the elements with water based varnish and dye, reducing the emission of Volatile Organic Compounds (VoCs) into the air  – and recognizing the contribution of OSC’s finishing department.

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We sprayed all the pieces individually  and then screwed the whole chair together. Next, we assembled the footstool and mounted the cup holder we fashioned from the pallet.

Before we gathered in a room at the Science Centre for the throwdown,  hubs made a last minute purchase in the gift shop. He found a coin bank in the shape of a can with OSC’s logo on it and purchased it to top off the cup holder as a final touch.

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All the submissions were fascinating as you’ll see below. We placed second and all the chairs were put out on display where visitors to OSC could admire and enjoy them!  Many years have passed since this challenge though, so I don’t know if any of these chairs are still on display.

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The winning chair was this Breathe Look Dream chair which featured a living roof!  It was stained using elements such as grass, steel wool, carrots, tea, turmeric etc., combined with vinegar and seeped in a mason jar. The canopy used birch wood felled in the ice storm and wood framing from a demolished deck. The plant trays used in the green roof were left over from annuals planted by City of Toronto workers.  Best of all, the plant materials in the gutters of the chair were curated to repel mosquitoes: Basil, Rosemary, Citronella, Bee Balm, Marigold, Lavendar and Catmint.

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The Tensegri Chair boasted a halo water misting unit and a human powered cooling fan (using a crank on the chair arm); all welcome features for those hot and humid Toronto summer days!

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Another cooling apparatus chair had a drink cooler and an adjustable canopy shaped like a leaf; it was a real head turner!

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Here’s the Solarific chair – which protects from the sun and harnesses its energy too. Along with the solar lights, the pencils decorating the arms absorb the solar rays to produce a glow-in-the-dark effect at night.

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I loved the message on the seat marked by the words “Your Curious Belongs Here” (an OSC motto). Cute!

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The OSC Camp chair sings the praises of summer day camp. OSC  has been keeping young minds happy and active in the summer with a week of interactive discovery where kids can make new friends, take part in exciting experiments and embark on unforgettable science adventures! I wish I could’ve gone there when I was a kid!

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In retrospect, the only thing I would do differently is to spray a few more layers of topcoat onto the entire chair. The trick to making this endure the elements better is in spraying many light coats of water-based varnish to seal in the paper and keep it from lifting. Unfortunately we ran out of time before we could build up the topcoat, so it did suffer a bit once it was put on display.  If I were to create a découpage chair for my own home, I would situate it outside where it wouldn’t be directly exposed to the elements – like a 3-season porch or under an awning.

One day when I get around to making a chair for our own use at home, I think it would be fun to incorporate something personal to us. I would enlarge either a layout of our own house, a satellite view of our street or even an vintage map of our neighbourhood for the découpage element. Maybe I’d even use my Birdz of a Feather logo as the tissue paper element on the back of the chair 🙂

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Although these chairs were designed specifically for the Ontario Science Centre, you could easily adopt some of these ideas to make a chair for your own home; the ideas are endless!

Speaking of endless, there’s a huge variety of experiences for every age to take in at OSC; it is more than a great place for kids! If you’re ever in the Toronto area (or just haven’t visited for a while), you should definitely  check out what’s on at the Ontario Science Centre and drop in! I know that Hubs and I are due for a visit soon 🙂

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Key Organizer

My husband is always misplacing his car keys which often makes us late. It’s been a source of frustration for me – wasted time spent looking for keys when we should be out the door.

As a solution, I made a transportation-themed key holder featuring a VW bug cut from a vinyl record album!

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I found some inspiring ideas on what to do with scratched record albums on Pinterest (search vinyl record art and you’ll see loads of ideas). Given my husband’s love of all things Volkswagen, I thought it would be a fun challenge to try out a VW Beetle with its curvy iconic shape. I cut the Beetle out of the vinyl record, mounted it to a backer board and added in other elements such as copper foil, fused glass, war amp key tags and even a popsicle stick!

If you don’t have a scratched album – or still love to listen to yours – check out a local second hand store. The Juice Newton record I used was found at my local Value Village for only $1 – ironic because one of hub’s friends from his beer brewing days nicknamed him ‘Juice’. Once all the elements were cut away, you can still see ‘Juice’ on the album🙂

Here are the items I used to create the key holder (I forgot to add in the double face tape!):

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I used Google images to find some clipart of a Volkswagen Beetle that I thought would work. I intended to create an older version of the VW for hubs, but the one I used for the key holder pictured above was so stylized that I knew it would be perfect to use as a test run. I didn’t really expect it to come out so good on my first try, so I never ended up doing the second one as I originally intended!

If you’re interested in trying out this project, I’ve included jpeg files of the beetle and stoplight clipart that I used below. Since the  record album was 12″ wide, I brought the graphic into  Powerpoint and set it to print on legal sized paper.  I then enlarged the clipart to 12″ in width so it would span the entire vinyl album. As you can see by my finished key holder in the opening picture, I used a mirror image of the clipart shown below.

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I used the stoplight to make the copper foil accent using a sheet of copper (see the jpeg provided below).

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I marked around the outline and cut it out of the copper sheet. Then I put the piece over a rubber pad and used various embossing tools to score the lines and emboss the detail. Some elements I embossed on the front of the copper and others I did on the back.  For instance, the centre (where the red, yellow and green ‘lights’ are) was embossed into the rubber pad from the front so the detail would look concave. The ‘wings’ of the piece are embossed on the back so that they stand proud and give the piece dimension.

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To finish off the stoplight I cut some circles out of adhesive backed black vinyl, stuck on red, yellow and green dots in the centre, and adhered them onto the copper.  I could have used some gem stones or even glass globs instead, but the stickers were lighter and I had them on-hand in my stash.

I cut out all the white areas of my VW  Beetle paper pattern, positioned it over the record album and used a chalk sewing pencil to transfer the design onto the vinyl. After Googling how to cut vinyl records, I settled on using a hot knife blade that came with a wood burning set I bought at Michaels. Here’s a link to the one video I found on YouTube that helped me immensely in the how-to aspects of cutting vinyl records:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHH47OVAKhw. Notice in particular at .47 seconds where she shows how she cuts the vinyl: she keeps her knife steady in one hand and then rotates the work with her other hand.

I set up a fan to blow away the fumes, but it would probably be best to also use a respirator, or do it outdoors if possible, to avoid inhaling the fumes.

I placed a piece of plywood underneath the album so I wouldn’t burn my work table.  Once the knife was heated up, I lowered the point into the vinyl on one of the lines, then used my left hand to rotate the album as I kept the knife steady in one spot and pulled the work toward me.  I worked slowly and steadily to slice through the vinyl with the hot knife, taking care not to stay in any one spot too long and over melt the vinyl. When necessary, I turned the work so I could cut into any corners.

In addition to the vinyl record, I added in a few odds and ends left over from another VW-related item I made for hubs before we were married – the stained glass clock pictured below. What started out as a birthday present took me all the way until Christmas to complete! Since it took so much effort to fabricate, I wanted to use elements I had already created!

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At this point, I gathered all  my components and started to visualize how they should all come together so I could plan the layout for the backer board.  I found a few war amp key tags in my father’s junk drawer; I thought they’d make a great backer for the cup hooks to hang the keys!

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For the backer board, I cut a piece of MDF to the shape of a house then painted it with some white paint on the front and sides:

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To hang the board on a wall, I glued and screwed a keyhole hanger to the back of the board to make it secure. Make sure to put it on as shown below with the wide end of the keyhole pointing down or it will fall off the wall when you hang it up. Centre it on the board (you can see my pencil marks below).  It should also run perfectly straight up and down to help keep it level once hung.

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I also added 3 felt pads on the back of the board to buffer the wall:

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In between the two key hooks, I added a ‘fake’ keychain made from fused glass, ball chain and a key blank. We only needed two hooks for hubs and me so I thought it would be interesting to add this purely decorative piece.

It’s a bit hard to make out, but there is a VW logo inscribed onto the copper that’s fused into the glass. This was the spare piece that I remade for hub’s glass clock because I didn’t like the air bubbles that got trapped between the layers – but I learned to embrace them for the key holder🙂

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To finish off the car, I put a popsicle stick behind the space I cut away from the vinyl record for the ‘license plate’. I traced the shape of the license plate onto stick then burned around the outline and added 66 VW to the centre of the wood with a wood burning tool (using a narrow tip).  I cut around the outside of the burned edges with an exacto knife and sanded the edges smooth. It was such a tight fit that I didn’t have to glue it into the space; it just stayed put on its own.  However, you could add some hot glue around the edges on back of the record to keep it from popping out.

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Hub’s favourite year of beetle is 1966; which I guess would have worked better with an older style bug – oh well!  This is the  old style of VW my husband prefers:

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I used some double side tape to attach the vinyl record and the copper stop light to the board.

Position the war amp key tags where you want them (in my case, on either end of the board underneath the VW bug) and screw the cup hook in tightly so they end up pointing upwards.

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To finish it off  I attached the glass key chain with velcro.

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The key holder was ready to go into active duty, however, I never could convince hubs to use it.  It’s been languishing in a box for quite some time. I’ll likely drag it out again when hubs has finished my craft studio and find a place (and some other purpose) for it there; let me know if you have any suggestions🙂

At Birdz of a Feather, we’re feathering the nest… one room (and project) at a time. If this project has inspired you, please pin and share on Facebook.

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Now that the weather is beautiful, it’s time for outdoor pursuits and gardening! If you plan on attending any flea markets or yard sales this summer, be prepared by checking out my post for the DIY Flea Market Survival Kit shown below:
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